Understanding nutty parents
It helps to understand peanut allergies, if you think peanut-parents fret too much.
Some children are so allergic that eating one peanut could kill them. Some adults are so allergic to the paranoid parents of these children, that they avoid them at all costs. How can you avoid excluding children who are allergic to peanuts and upsetting their suspicious and fearful parents?

In a world where the packaging of every conceivable food screams a “may contain traces of nuts” warning, it’s understandable that peanut allergies can make us jumpy. What if your child brings her allergic school friend for a visit? Short of sealing your entire kitchen in a plastic sandwich, or providing a biohazard suit, what do you do?

Put yourself in the shoes of a peanut-parent for a moment: They’ve been told their child could potentially die from an allergic reaction to something which can be found in every supermarket and most households in the country. The innocuous peanut, for them, has become a loaded weapon.

So, when they attempt to frisk your child, or give you the third degree, just keep calm. After all, their child is probably listening in, and will be repeating their family motto, ‘Just ONE nut could KILL you’.

Interestingly, lightning strikes and bee stings kill more people than allergic reactions to peanuts.

There. You can breathe again! By the way, the ‘breathing in the same room as a nut’ fear is, according to specialists, not as dangerous as we’ve been led to believe. Tests have shown that reactions to secondary contact, i.e., non-ingestion, are rare, mild, and possibly related to conditioning and belief.

Before you dash off to the kitchen to rustle up a batch of peanut brittle for your son’s birthday party, consider the following:

  • Parents of children with allergies have every right to be nervous about their child being exposed to the allergen. They may not have the right to go through your cupboards, but do listen to their concerns without mentally calling them names Just to avoid the risk, playschools, daycare centres and other schools should avoid using products containing peanuts or peanut oil
  • Those places should also have epinephrine medication, just in case.
  • If you have a child with a peanut allergy, you’ll need appropriate medication, and you’ll all need to know how to use it. Tell adults who will be looking after her how to use the medication, too
  • Get in the habit of asking your child’s friends about allergies if they’re going to be eating in your house
  • The best way to avoid an allergic reaction is still to make sure your child doesn’t eat peanut products if you suspect sensitivity
Being the parent of a child who has a peanut allergy, I understand the anxieties: My daughter knows not to share lunch with friends at school, and is an expert at reading labels. I do find it hard to help her feel secure and try not to transfer my fears. Now to deal with those pesky bees…

Does your child have a peanut allergy or a friend with a challenging sensitivity? Tell us about it below.

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